With the lockout likely to linger well into October and perhaps into November, trying to preview the season of 30 teams that might not actually have one seems about as worthwhile as raking leaves on a windy day. But I love raking and the wind only makes it last longer. We here at Razzball have you covered, even if you didn’t want to be covered. That’s love. You’ll appreciate it when you’re older. Look at it this way, the only way any of this stuff can be disproven is if the season starts. So go ahead, NBA, make me a fibber! I dare you. Until then, consider this fantasy basketball gospel. Don’t even bother reading anything else – dem’s all lies. From now until the start of the season, we’re bringing you the 2011 Fantasy Team Previews, which will focus on each team in order to paint a clearer fantasy picture. Who’s starting? Who might surprise you? And who might make you want to hurl yourself off a bridge in a few months. Enjoy! Next up – The Utah Jazz (I was just going to marry this preview with a couple other team previews, but those other previews thought such an arrangement would be immoral).
Lost – Kyrylo Fesenko (who, in turn, lost the meniscus in his knee last week), Kyle Weaver
Probable position depth –
PG – Devin Harris, Earl Watson, Ronnie Price
SG – Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Raja Bell
SF – C.J. Miles, Andrei Kirilenko,
PF – Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Jeremy Evans
C – Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, Mehmet Okur, Francisco Elson
Surprising Team Fact From Last Season – The Jazz led the league in personal fouls (1,865 or 22.7 PF per game) and subsequently allowed the most opponent’s free throws. Millsap, Jefferson and Miles each had 220+ personal fouls last season. No other team had more than two players that handsy in 2010-11.
Number of Top 20 Fantasy Players (par 0-1) – 0
Number of Top 50 Fantasy Players (par 1-2) – 2, Jefferson, Millsap
Number of Top 75 Fantasy Players (par 2-3) – 3, Harris
Number of Top 100 Fantasy Players (par 3-4) – 0
Number of Top 200 Fantasy Players (par 6-7) – 7, Hayward, Miles, Favors, Kirilenko
3 Concerns Heading Into the Season
1. How many Utah frontcourtsman does it take to screw up the Jazz?
Heading into the still locked-out season, this is most certainly Utah’s biggest issue: who is going to play and what are they going to do when they are playing. Frankly, Jefferson and Millsap are the only two solid bets for solid production and even Millsap has found himself on the trading block throughout the summer. Favors was raw enough last year (and not in the Eddie Murphy sense of the word … unless you’re referring to Murphy’s facial skin after kissing that tranny a few years back. Then raw may be appropriate. To recap: Darrick Favors in 2010 was more like Eddie Murphy’s whisker burn than his classic comedy special) that I think it’s going to take another full season before we see something useful from him. Kanter might be more rough this year than Favors last year and no one else should play more than 10 mpg. They might, but they shouldn’t.
2. Is it bad that I still think Deron Williams is this team’s starting PG? That’s bad, right?
Only if it means you’re hoping to get 20/4/10 from your Utah point guard instead of the 16/4/6 you’re more likely to get from Devin Harris
3. What are the chances fantasy owners get the “2011 Eurobasket Tournament AK-47” instead of the “old ‘n’ busted Andrei?”
I’d be more worried about Kirilenko returning to the NBA than playing well in it. At this point, what you’re getting with Kirilenko is the same thing you’d get with a 10-year-old thoroughbred: A beautiful mane, mood swings, brittle bones, and a high unlikeliness that it will make it all the way around the track.
Rookie Review! – I already went over Enes Kanter here. Wait, no. Not there. –> here. And as for Alec Burks, the No. 12 overall pick, who by most accounts, is an athletic shooting guard whose athleticism and shot might not immediately translate to the pros. He doesn’t have a good outside jumper and he’s skinny. And what’s worse, Burks landed on a team with all sorts of players who have kinda adopted a mindset that if they want playing time, they’ll have to learn a second and third position. Favors, Kirilenko and Hayward might see action at the three. Miles might see action and the two. Millsap might see action at the five and Okur might see action. The more malleable these guys become, the less I see Burks having a solid footing on this squad. He’s quick and has a creative ability when he’s airborne, but so much of that has been predicated on him having the ball in transition. Go ahead and change the predication in “Burks is draftable” to “is not.”
Fantasy Disappointment in ’11 – Mehmet Okur. What makes an injury-prone, 6-foot-11 center who’s barely averaged 7 rpg in his career and isn’t even the best Turkish center on his own team more attractive? Remind everyone that he’s going to turn 33 this season.
Biggest Fantasy Contributor in ’11 – Al Jefferson. It’s been a while, so perhaps you forgot what Howlin’ Wolf did to opponents after the All-Star Break last season: 22/11/3, shooting .518 from the floor and blocking 1.8 shots per game. Who knows what happened to him in February. Maybe he didn’t get along with Deron Williams. Maybe he was less distracted with ski season coming to a close. Maybe he sucked up any residual talent Okur still had in him like John Coffey did with “badness.” At any rate, Jefferson started all 82 games last season and should go somewhere before the 30th pick in the draft as Utah’s top offensive option.
Deep Sleeper – Gordon Hayward. The starting shooting guard for the NBA’s Names-That-Don’t-Match-Faces squad was highly underrated in the final stretch of last season. He averaged 36 mpg and laid out a 16/3/3, shooting .581 from the floor and averaging almost two threes a game. No one really talked about it. I picked him up on two teams last year and won both of those leagues. That’s only a coincidence in the sense that there were co-incidences. One was me picking up Hayward and the other was me winning the leagues because of it. While I don’t think Hayward averages 58 percent shooting all season, with Burks, Bell and maybe Miles offering only minor assistance at the two-spot, I can easily see Hayward playing 32+ mpgs all year and ending up somewhere around 13/3/4.